United States District Court, D. Maryland
LONNIE D. NIXON
MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, et al.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending and ready for resolution is the motion to dismiss or,
in the alternative, for summary judgment filed by Defendants
Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional
Services (“DPSCS”) and twelve DPSCS employees
named in the complaint (collectively,
“Defendants”) (ECF No. 21), the motion for leave
to amend filed by Plaintiff Lonnie Nixon (ECF No. 13), and
the motion for leave to supplement filed by Plaintiff (ECF
No. 16). The issues have been briefed, and the court now
rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6.
For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be
granted, the motion for leave to supplement will be denied,
and the motion for leave to amend will be denied.
is an inmate formerly housed at the Metropolitan Transition
Center (“MTC”). On December 1, 2016, Plaintiff
Lonnie Nixon asked to go to the library to work on an appeal
of his conviction but was informed by Defendant Eregha that
the library was closed even though the library had reopened
that day. On December 2, he asked to see case management to
obtain copies of documents for his “re-trial motion,
” but Defendant Taylor denied his request. He also
asked to speak with Defendant Williams and for a grievance
form. Both requests were denied. On January 20, 2017, Sgt.
Walker would not allow Plaintiff to see case
management even though Defendant Landerkin had given him a
pass. Defendant Price denied Plaintiff's related
grievances, and, on February 16, Plaintiff filed an action
seeking damages for the denial of access to the courts. (ECF
No. 1, at 2-3).
October 19, Defendants moved to dismiss or, in the
alternative, for summary judgment. (ECF No. 21). Plaintiff
responded and supplemented his response. (ECF Nos. 27, 28,
Standard of Review
purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test
the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir.
2006). A plaintiff's complaint need only satisfy the
standard of Rule 8(a), which requires a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Rule
8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing,' rather than a
blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Bell.
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 n.3 (2007).
That showing must consist of more than “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action” or
“naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual
enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (internal citations omitted).
se pleadings are liberally construed and held to a less
stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976));
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Liberal
construction means that the court will read the pleadings to
state a valid claim to the extent that it is possible to do
so from the facts available; it does not mean that the court
should rewrite the complaint to include claims never
presented. Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1132
(10thCir. 1999). That is, even when pro
se litigants are involved, the court cannot ignore a
clear failure to allege facts that support a viable claim.
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387,
391 (4th Cir. 1990); Forquer v. Schlee,
No. RDB-12-969, 2012 WL 6087491, at *3 (D.Md. Dec. 4, 2012)
(“[E]ven a pro se complaint must be dismissed
if it does not allege a plausible claim for relief.”
(citation and internal quotation marks
liberally, Plaintiff purports to assert a claim that
Defendants violated his constitutional rights by denying him
legal resources interfering with his ability to access the
courts. These claims, if viable, thus arise under 42 U.S.C.
1983 provides, “Every person who, under color
of any statute . . . of any State . . . subjects, or causes
to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to
the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the
party injured[.]” (emphasis added). The Supreme Court
of the United States has held that states and state agencies
are not persons for the purposes of § 1983 and,
therefore, cannot be held liable. Will v. Mich. Dep't
of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). The Maryland
Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services is
“undoubtedly an arm of the state for purposes of §
1983.” Clark v. Md. Dep't of Public Safety
& Corr. Servs., 316 Fed.Appx. 279, 282
(4th Cir. 2009). Accordingly, Defendant DPSCS will
have a constitutional right to access courts to challenge
convictions and redress violations of their rights, and, to
effectuate that right, states have an “affirmative duty
to provide meaningful access to the courts for incarcerated
individuals.” White v. White, 886 F.2d 721,
727 (4th Cir. 1989). “[T]his constitutional
obligation does not require states to afford inmates
unlimited access to a library.” Petrick v.
Maynard, 11 F.3d 991, 994 (10th Cir. 1993).
Rather, states must only provide “a reasonably adequate
opportunity to present claimed violations of fundamental
constitutional rights to the courts.” Bounds v.
Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 825 (1977).
does not identify any acts by Defendants Alexander, White,
Major, Holmes, Harris, Carter, and Swann. Accordingly, his
claims against them will be dismissed.
alleges that Defendant Landerkin issued a pass for him to see
case management; Defendant Price denied his grievance
requests; and his request to see Defendant Williams was
denied. None of these allegations relate to access to the
courts, and, therefore, ...